Last Friday was a glorious day in the city of New Orleans as Drew Brees re-signed with the Saints, a five year contract worth $100 million. It was as if a popular king who had been exiled had returned to take his throne. I even ended up on the local news that night when I came into town to help a friend celebrate her 40th birthday, and cameras from Fox 8 showed up at Cooter Brown's to get fan reaction to Brees' signing.
Ironically, there were not many people in Cooter Brown's at the time and I was one of the few there who could actually comment on the situation as the majority of the birthday party had surprisingly traveled from Chevy Chase, MD and likewise were not really personally affected by the Drew Brees contract saga. Thus, I was more than happy to help Fox 8 reporter Natasha Robin return to the station with footage for her story, even though she edited me a good bit when I finally got my pronunciation back on track after her first question.
But enough about me, let's get back to Bree$. The 2012 offseason stands in stark contrast to last season's for many reasons, and I'm not just talking about Bountygate. The Saints 2011 offseason was defined by the presence of Brees as he and Jonathan Vilma led the team through workouts on the Tulane campus during the NFL lockout.
Under Brees' leadership, the Saints were only one of the few NFL teams to hold voluntary player-led workouts which earned the team high praise in the national sports media. While the extra work did not bring the Saints another Super Bowl, it did seem to payoff as the offense set numerous records and showed great improvement from the 2010 season, when they looked pedestrian at times.
In contrast, the 2012 offseason has been a public relations nightmare for Saints players, who have been characterized as vigilante bounty hunters willing to end the careers of opponents for a cash payment. The Saints front office has not looked good either. In addition to being charged with allowing this bounty practice to continue, general manager Mickey Loomis has been under fire from fans for being unsuccessful in getting the heart and soul of the franchise signed to a long term contract.
However, with Brees finally signing just days before the start of training camp there seems to be a sense among Saints fans that all is right with the world again. Hopefully, that is the case and Brees and the Saints offense picks up right where they left off. The absence of Brees during offseason training activities is obviously not the only adjustment that the Saints offense will have to make.
The suspension of Sean Payton is a significant loss regardless if Pete Carmichael, Jr. is a capable play caller himself. In addition, while he may never have me the expectations of his first round draft pick status, wide receiver Robert Meachem did make his share of big plays, and his free agency loss will be felt.
It is a huge relief that Drew Brees has signed to a long term contract. With Brees' leadership and ability, there is always the chance that the Saints will reach another Super Bowl. However, the delay in getting a deal done now requires alot of catch up work to get accomplished in training camp.
One hundred million dollars is how much Brees, Tom Condon and Mickey Loomis agreed he is worth over the next five years. As Brees said himself, "Now it's time to go earn it!" Reading between the lines, "earning it" means winning another Super Bowl. I'm hopeful he will.